A Taste of the East - Sail Magazine

A Taste of the East

You know you are in for a different kind of cruising experience when a) the guide book says: “Do not go ashore onto either of the Koh Liang islands. They are sites for the collection of swallow’s nests to make bird’s nest soup. They are patrolled by local Thais armed with automatic weapons;” and b) the charter base manager (ours was Andy Middleton, who runs the Sunsail base in Langkawi, Malaysia)
Author:
Publish date:
east_int1

You know you are in for a different kind of cruising experience when a) the guide book says: “Do not go ashore onto either of the Koh Liang islands. They are sites for the collection of swallow’s nests to make bird’s nest soup. They are patrolled by local Thais armed with automatic weapons;” and b) the charter base manager (ours was Andy Middleton, who runs the Sunsail base in Langkawi, Malaysia) tells you to watch out for monkeys stealing from the dinghy.

And what a different experience it was!

We were scheduled to cruise a Sunsail 384 catamaran from Langkawi to Phuket, Thailand. The crew consisted of myself, my wife Terrie, our children Pippin and Paul, and their friend Jonah.

The two Sunsail bases in Thailand and Malaysia are only a few degrees north of the equator. The heat and humidity slam into you the minute you emerge from the plane. A pre-arranged taxi service was waiting for us, and we arrived at our boat around mid-afternoon to find it decorated with gorgeous tropical flowers.

We waited until the relative cool of the evening to go exploring and do some preliminary grocery shopping. Walking into town, we were accompanied by a troop of monkeys, including mothers with babies, swinging through the trees and along the power lines beside us. Hornbill birds were flitting from branch to branch. At an open-air night market with rows of dimly lit stalls we sampled a dozen spicy delicacies and exotic fruits that were new to us. Everything was amazingly cheap. We were off to a good start.

In the morning, Andy spent hours driving Terrie and the others to an assortment of grocery stores for more provisioning, while I pored over the charts and guide books. Paul and Sheila, a couple who run a nautical supply business, brought drinking water, ice, beer and wine to the boat. We set sail in the early afternoon in protected waters close-reaching on a perfect 10-15 knot breeze with stunning scenery all around us. Little did we know that the farther we went, the better the scenery would get.

east_int2

This was very much like sailing in the Virgin Islands, but with several eagles to keep us company. The boat itself was a pleasant surprise. The 384 is a replacement for the old Moorings 3800. By comparison, it is sprightly and fun. It easily accelerates to 8-plus knots and moves respectably to windward when necessary.

There are fundamentally two sailing seasons in this part of the world, with northeast monsoon winds from November to April and southwest monsoon winds from April to November. The southwest monsoon features stronger winds and larger seas. We were at the tail end of the northeast season (the word “monsoon” is derived from mawsim, the Arabic word for “season”), with predominantly light and fickle winds, so unfortunately for much of the charter we were unable to make the most of the boat’s performance.

During the northeast monsoon you tend to anchor on the west side of the islands, and during the southwest monsoon on the east side. We had a quiet first night dug in off the west coast of Langkawi, with a gentle breeze to mitigate the heat. The tides in the Andaman Sea peak out at 10 feet, with substantial currents running between and around the islands, so it’s important to set the anchor well. In general, though, we found the holding to be excellent, so this was no problem.

Related

USCGReadyForRescue_Identifier_FullColor

USCG Ready for Rescue Challenge

The U.S. Coast Guard is now collaborating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on something it calls the “Ready for Rescue,” a $255,000 prize competition that is looking for ways that will make it easier to locate people, MOB victims in particular, in the water.The ...read more

04-CLR1718md1085-jpg

A Historic Win for Wendy Tuck

This past summer Australian sailor, Wendy Tuck (inset), became the first woman to win a round-the-world yacht race when she and her crew aboard Sanya Serenity Coast claimed the overall victory in the 2017-18 Clipper Race. “I am just so happy,” Tuck said at the finish in ...read more

daviscards

Davis Instruments: Quick Reference Cards

CHECK THESEIf you’re sailing with new crew this summer or your kids have suddenly and inexplicably started to look up from their phones and take an interest in the finer points of cruising, these Quick Reference Cards from Davis are a great way to further their boating education. ...read more

01-rbir18-596

Another Epic Round Britain Race

There are basically two kinds of offshore sailboat races out there: those that take place annually, like the Fastnet and Chicago-to-Mackinac races; and those that take place every other year, like the Transpac and Newport-Bermuda race, in part so the competitors have sufficient ...read more

01b_WALKING-KEDGE-OUT-cmykpromo

Getting More Use From Kedge Anchors

If you are cruising, you need at least two anchors on board for the simple reason that you must have a backup. Imagine having to slip your anchor on a stormy night with other boats dragging down on yours, or having your rope rode severed by some unseen underwater obstacle, ...read more

SailAwayCharter

How-to: Navigating on a Bareboat Charter

So you graduated from navigation class where you practiced dead reckoning, doubling the angle on the bow and maybe even celestial nav, and you now feel well prepared for your first charter trip. Well, you won’t be doing any of that on vacation—not past the first day, anyway.Most ...read more

04-Turtle-rescue

Turtle Rescue in the Vic-Maui

Strange and often wonderful things can happen in the course of an offshore sailboat race, and one of the strangest and most wonderful things we’ve heard of recently took place during the 2,300-mile 2018 Vic-Maui race, from Victoria, British Columbia, to Lahaina, Hawaii.It ...read more